Friday, 16 January 2009

Pearl Millet Thresher Update

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We are exited to bring everyone up to date on the recent advances in our threshing program. Since last we reported, our Leary Thresher has logged many miles and seen many a millet seed. Here is what has happened…

In late October, Erv Lentz sent our thresher, and then followed it to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) test site in Tifton, GA for field trials. At Tifton, USDA scientist Dr. Jeff Wilson and his team put Erv and the thresher through a series of tests designed to establish its productivity and the quality of the product it produced. We were also interested in determining the ergonomics of the design and the robustness of its construction. Over the course of several days, Dr. Wilson determined that our design was good, but had some durability and ergonomic issues needed to be resolved.  He also established that while the rate of production was acceptable, he had some concerns with the quality of the seeds (percentage of broken seeds) winnowed.  It is not well understood what is an acceptable level of broken seeds in rural areas of Mali; this concern was left in the “to be determined” file.  Given this B+ grading the machine was crated up and sent to the engineers at OneLab Initiative in Columbus, OH.

OneLab Initiative is a group of Battelle engineers and technical people who have put their knowledge and expertise at CTI’s disposal on this thresher project.  Lead by Reade Harpham, these folks are redesigning the unit to improve its durability and ergonomics. They will also be retrofitting the thresher to include a winnowing fan in the basic design. Once Reade and his band of merry thresher engineers have completed their work, the new, freshly minted Leary Thresher will be shipped to Bamako, Mali for field trials. There it will be joined by CTI volunteer Steve Clarke, who with collaboration from more Malian friends of CTI, will determine what further modifications must be made before we have a production ready thresher…..but more on Steve’s work in a later addition!

CTI is proud to include creative thinkers like Jeff Wilson and Reade Harpham into our family of contributors. Many thanks guys!

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